Volunteer in Biological Research Abroad

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A Guide to Volunteering Abroad in Biological Research

From ecological preservation, assisting with animal research, or even providing support for  disease research, volunteering in biological research abroad has a myriad of options to take you all over the world. With a broad choice of applications and locations, every experience is different, but biology volunteer work abroad all centers on the unique opportunity to donate your time and knowledge to deserving projects in need of extra hands, minds, and smiling faces. For those with a philanthropic disposition, becoming a biology volunteer abroad in places in need of conservation of their precious ecosystems will truly be a life changing choice.

Why Volunteer Abroad

Volunteering in biological research abroad will change your scope of the world. While learning biological concepts in the classroom is certainly valuable and necessary, nothing can top authentic first hand experience in a new and exciting environment. Whether in a laboratory or out in the field, lending a hand is a humbling experience, and one that can teach you new research skills, ways of communication, and different methods of thought. All scientists should take the opportunity to become a biology volunteer abroad.

In a field as diverse as biological research, which encompasses marine biology, conservation biology, and a myriad of other important biological applications, including medical and veterinary work, international volunteer experience shows employers, graduate schools, and research fellowships that you actively seek out hands-on opportunities to use your technical knowledge to better the world. 


Choosing a location for your biological research abroad may be the most challenging aspect of planning your trip, as there is no shortage of locations in which active biological research takes place. Traveling to an endangered or at-risk ecosystem appeals to many students who want to be a biology volunteer abroad.

For this reason, South America is a popular choice. Biological research done in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia in the Amazon rainforest includes identification of rare plants and animals, predator research, and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to discover one of the world’s most biodiverse areas. Biological research abroad can be completed through conservation efforts through private institutions or with government organizations, both of which are popular options in South America as well. 

Southeast Asia. The tropical climates of Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos draw in many biology volunteers. Marine conservation on the coasts is a valuable experience that can expose you to unique oceanic habitats and associated rare inhabitants. Some species in the rainforest of Southeast Asia has been damaged or changed by recent natural disasters as well, so biology volunteers in these areas will have the distinctive experience of helping rebuild habitats or study the effects of natural disasters on the environment. Whether in the sea or on land, Asia has plenty of opportunities to volunteer in biological research while learning about life halfway across the world.

Africa. Consider working as a biology volunteer abroad in an African country, such as South Africa or Kenya. Biological volunteering at animal sanctuaries in these countries, including doing research on treatment and rehabilitation, feeding, and daily lives, appeals to animal lovers or those looking to become veterinary researchers especially. Biology volunteers in Africa can also aid in the development of environmentally sustainable policies to shape the way these countries interact with their environments as they grow, or volunteering in a medical facility helping with public health education, spreading important information about how biological research and health issues affect all species. 

Biological Research Volunteering Abroad

Structure & Responsibilities. Depending on your focus, your experience as a biology volunteer abroad can look very different. The majority of biological research abroad provides volunteers with field experience to add to their resume. In this case, volunteers partner with a biology volunteer program and are typically assigned or given a choice of projects to work on. Active field research volunteers should expect to be outdoors, collecting or investigating plant or animal life for a portion of the day, then making observations and drawing conclusions about their work. Much of this biological research abroad is completed in groups with other international volunteers. 

Animal Volunteering & Conservation. Biology volunteering in these areas will probably take place at a zoo or an animal sanctuary. Volunteers will help with the feeding and caretaking of various animals, from anemones to zebras, and observing their behavior for long-term projects. Volunteering with marine animal life takes the same structure, but underwater. It’s important to note that conservation volunteer work can be physically demanding as well as intellectually demanding.

Duration & Experience. The length of your biology volunteer placement is fairly flexible, though most organizations require a two to three week commitment to ensure you will have time to finish a small project or observational period. Volunteering in biological research abroad for longer periods of time, like a sizeable portion of a summer break, is more popular, as it allows the biology volunteer to take on more responsibility with the organization of their choice. Becoming a biology volunteer abroad usually requires no prior experience, but many volunteer programs will be checking to see if volunteers have completed relevant biology, botany, or wildlife courses.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Purposeful Passion. If you’re pursuing a career in biological research after graduation, a summer volunteer trip or even volunteering for one to three weeks during a school break, can work in your favor when it comes to the eyes of your employers. Biological research is a discipline where field experience truly matters. In contrast to studying abroad, volunteering in biological research abroad involves a singular project of focus, typically based in the field, and possibly coupled with laboratory work. This focused international experience, completed for the benefit of others and mother nature, shows potential employers you have dedicated valuable time to field work. Biological researhc abroad also shows you are willing to take on challenges, such as those that come with living abroad, working amid foreign languages, and learning a new educational culture, all for the sake of your passion for biology.

Amp Up Your Vet/Med School Application. Furthermore, those with biology degrees who are applying for veterinary or medical schools after graduation will benefit from volunteer experience in biological research as well. Veterinary and medical schools look for well-rounded applicants with philanthropic attitudes, and doing biological research abroad can illustrate both.

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A Guide To
Volunteering Abroad in Biological Research


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